Rosa laevigata, the Cherokee rose, is a white, fragrant rose native to southern China and Taiwan south to Laos and Vietnam, and invasive in the United States.
It is an evergreen climbing shrub, scrambling over other shrubs and small trees to heights of up to 5–10 metres (16–33 ft). The leaves are 3–10 centimetres (1.2–3.9 in) long, with usually three leaflets, sometimes five leaflets, bright glossy green and glabrous. The flowers are 6–10 centimetres (2.4–3.9 in) diameter, fragrant, with pure white petals and yellow stamens, and are followed by bright red and bristly hips 2–4 centimetres (0.79–1.57 in) diameter. The flower stem is also very bristly.
The flower is commonly associated with the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of Native Americans in the southeastern United States. Its white petals are said to represent the tears the Cherokee women shed during the period of great hardship and grief throughout US government-forced march from the Cherokees’ home to U.S. forts, such as Gilmer. The flower’s gold center is said to symbolize the gold taken from the Cherokee tribe.
The flower figures prominently in several episodes of AMC‘s television series The Walking Dead which is set in Georgia. A second season episode called Cherokee Rose mentioned the trail of tears myth about the flower.